Confirmation of the Local Church

(Reflections and Refinements)

Archbishop John

of San Francisco and the Western United States

New York


The 14th All-American Council, which took place on 20, 21 and 22 October, 1970, at St. Tikhon’s Monastery, became the first Council of the local Orthodox Church in America. It may be justifiably called historic, since it turned a new page for Orthodoxy in our land.

The historical independence of the American Church was proclaimed by the Russian Church on April 10, 1970, after the ratification of the agreement of both Churches, now become sister Churches, signed by their entire episcopate. The First All-American Council of clergy and laity solemnly received this agreement at St. Tikhon’s Monastery on October 20 in surroundings of grace and significance.

To the sound of the monastery bells a great procession of Council delegates – laymen, priests and bishops – emerged from the large building of St. Tikhon’s Seminary and made their way to the monastery temple. Eleven American Orthodox bishops with their primate, the Most Blessed Iriney, Metropolitan of all America and Canada, took their places in the choir areas. The delegates, pastors and laymen, filled the temple. The Tomos (document) of the Russian Church granting autocephaly to the American Church, the 15th Church of Universal Orthodoxy, was read from the ambo. The missive of the bishops of the new local Church was also announced. The Most Blessed Iriney together with the assembled clergy then served a Molieben of Thanksgiving, which was sung by the entire church. After the prayer service the Council delegates processed back to the seminary building.

Filing out of the temple, the delegates saw five or six young men and girls standing pitifully stone faced on the side paths. In their hands they held a brochure in English published by the American Sectarian Baptist McIntaire. Its pages were mottled with various reprinted newspaper photographs of Metropolitan Nikodim, depicting him with the Pope of Rome, with members of the World Council of Churches, etc. The brochure was intended as a sharp criticism of the Pope and Catholics, as well as Protestants from the National and World Councils of Churches who had received ecclesiastical guests from the Soviet Union. Such was the demonstration "against Autocephaly", a naive and childish attempt to influence the members of the Church Council.

Possibly as a result of some plan, a delegation from Russian Synod of Bishops outside Russia arrived at the monastery, asking to be received. Our ruling hierarch charged me, Bishop Dmitri and Protopresbyter A. Schmemann with receiving this delegation and ascertaining their intentions. The delegation consisted of Bishop Laurus, Protopresbyter George Grabbe and one monk. We bishops, Laurus and I, greeted each other with a brotherly kiss, and Father A. Schmemann received his hierarchical blessing. But the Synodal priests did not wish to greet us in this churchly manner. This detail is unimportant, but it serves to define the spirit and mood with which the delegation came to us. It also brought a special Appeal from Metropolitan Philaret to the All-American Council and expressed a desire to read this Appeal at the Council. Naturally we had to explain to the delegation that a Church Council is a strictly internal affair of our Church and that there are no provisions for speeches by extraneous persons, especially such as have no respect for the Council.**

We parted company after a short conversation. (For my own part I added a suggestion that perhaps it was time for the Synod of Bishops outside Russia to review their position with regard to the Orthodox Church in America.)

After some time the Appeal of Metropolitan Philaret was published in the Russian press.

What can be said in regard to it? First it is full of arguments whose inadequacies have been already demonstrated many times. The Orthodox American Mission of the Russian Church, begun in 1794, becoming the Aleutian Diocese in the 19th century, the American Metropolia thereafter and now proclaimed the Autocephalous Church of this land, could not have been and never was a part of the "Russian Church outside Russia," which came into being 125 years after its founding in America. It is a known fact that the hierarchy of the "Russian Church outside Russia" was organized in 1920 in Constantinople, and soon afterwards with the blessing of the Serbian Church, moved to its territory making its headquarters in the church building in Sremsky Karlovtsy. The immediate and natural purpose of the organization of this hierarchy was the spiritual nourishment of Russian refugees after their evacuation from the last Russian territory. Yet such a natural task for this ecclesiastical administration, thanks to the influence of radical political immigrant groups of the time, was expanded to include a political aspect. The administration in Karlovtsy began to see its role as that of not only the spiritual, but also the patriotic leader of the Russians outside Russia. Having adopted, as it seemed, such a patriotic position, the bishops of Sremsky Karlovtsy, not by Christian, alas, but rather by demagogic means (falsely accusing those not in agreement with them of political foible) attempted to make subject to themselves the pre-revolutionary local American diocese, Japan and the former Petersburg vicariate in Western Europe, which had been transformed by the Russian Church into the Metropolia. It was their desire to gain power over the entire Russian emigration. Naturally other bishops and pastors were opposed to these aspirations. There then began a dispatching of "parallel" bishops and pastors out of Yugoslavia. This led to a great state of unrest in both the Churches of Western Europe and America in the middle of the 1920’s. The Japanese Church was affected later on. All this was justified, of course, by the necessity of carrying on a struggle with the Bolsheviks for the re-establishment in Russia of the imperial house of the Romanoffs (a resolution of the 1st Karlovtsy Church Council).

When the Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich declared himself "Emperor of All the Russias" in the French town of Saint Briac, the President of the Synod of Bishops in Sremsky Karlovtsy, Metropolitan Anthony, as all the members of the Synod outside Russia (with the exception of Metropolitan Anastassy, which is to his credit), immediately recognized him as the "Emperor" and began to conduct prayer services in Belgrade for him as czar. (Half the congregation would leave the temple at such times.) If I were serving with Metropolitan Anthony, I would put off my vestments, not having sufficient strength to take part in such defiance to God and to His will. It was for this that I was first accused of being a "Mason" (which I never came even close to being). Nikolai Pavlovich Rklitsky became the editor of "The Imperial Herald," the semi-official publication of the legitimate monarchists in Serbia. Today he is the Vice-President of the Synod of Bishops outside Russia, Archbishop Nikon . . . All this, of course, divided the Russian emigration and diverted attention from a purely religious expression of life. It disturbed a pure and tranquil penetration into Orthodoxy and the life of the people in the Russian diaspora, who were very much in need of a deepening of their faith. Unrest and the politicization of the Church were justified (as they are today) by the "struggle with the Bolsheviks," "implacability," etc. But – there was never any kind of political struggle. There was only noise, an oppressive and divisive for those close to the Church, a demagogic carrying on of ill-fated secular leaders and those church officials who followed them. This was a profanation of the Orthodox Faith (as well as the idea of an Orthodox monarchy). And all of this is still going on.

In order to rid the Church of the turmoil which had arisen among the emigration, a great friend of the Russians and a pupil of the Russian Theological Academy, Patriarch Barnabas became the mediator in the establishment in 1935 of the Provisional Coordination Center in Sremsky Karlovtsy on the basis of the "Provisional Status" of all former parts of the Russian Church that had lost ties with Moscow. In 1937 at the 6th All-American Council in New York Metropolitan Theophilus announced that he had signed the "Provisional Status" in Karlovtsy. This agreement, formally accepted by this American Council, was in fact not ratified by a majority of delegates, since 122 abstained from voting on this matter and the "Provisional Status" with substantial limitations was confirmed by only 105 votes (with 9 against).* Through the efforts of the Hierarchy this Status came into practical use for a few years and to a certain extent eased antagonism, but it did not rid the Church in America of its diversity of opinions and disagreements.

The last vestige of this "Temporary Status" of 1935 was dispersed at the 7th All-American Council in Cleveland in 1946. The temporary came to an end. No other decision could have been made. The Center for Bishops outside Russia disappeared from the territory of the Serbian Church and disbanded as a result of the war. And the American Metropolia in 1946 expressed once more its belief in its local domain and declared its being a part of either the Moscow Patriarchate or the temporary Church "outside Russia" impossible.

We have documents concerning the official talks in 1947* in New York with Metropolitan Gregory (Chukov), who arrived from the USSR with a commission from the Moscow Patriarchate of granting the American Metropolia wide autonomy. Someday they will be published. Metropolitan Theophilus commissioned me, among others, to conduct negotiations with him. There was no positive outcome to those negotiations. We felt it possible to accept from the Russian Church only an autocephalous type of autonomy that would eliminate any control in electing the Metropolitan from outside the country. Moscow was not in agreement with that. Subsequently there was meeting of the Great Synod of Bishops in San Francisco and a suspension on the part of the Moscow Patriarchate of us, its Bishops. One may have differing opinions, but historical actuality must be the foundation of all our human reasonings, even more so in matters of religion.

Completely deserted and alone, the President of the Synod of the Church outside Russia, Metropolitan Anastassy, along with the Chancellor of the Church, left Serbian territory (which had canonically validated the Hierarchical Agreement of 1935) and evacuated to Germany. Towards the end of the war there was nothing left of the Synod of Bishops outside Russia except for its President and Chancellor who remained in Munich. It must also be noted that, paying no heed to the very existence of the American Metropolia, the President of the Synod of Bishops during the war in Germany (as also before the war) executed acts and made statements in which the American Metropolia took no part and for which it holds no responsibility.

Metropolitan Philaret’s "Appeal" makes no reference to this. It is silent about such characteristic and substantial facts, that the majority of the bishops of the Church outside Russia at the end of the war and afterwards recognized the Moscow Patriarchate and were received into the Russian Church through the offering of repentance. In the Far East, those bishops of the Church outside Russia tied to the Synod addressed Stalin with a solemn letter of gratitude and glorification. Under the text of that address appears the signature of Metropolitan Philaret’s venerable father, His Grace Archbishop Dimitry (Voznesensky) of Hailar, and two other venerable hierarchs. Archbishop Dimitry, along with other Synodal hierarchs, returned to the USSR where he served the Church and where he died.

In reading this letter of the bishops outside Russia to Stalin it is impossible to forget the published articles of several people who have insulted the patriarchal bishops, perceiving them as unworthy of granting independence (even from themselves) to the Orthodox Church in America, since in the USSR they "congratulated Stalin" and wished him well. Is it wise to express moral indignation against Soviet citizens, the bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate for their "congratulations to Stalin" while closing your eyes to the words of the Bishops of the Church outside Russia who found themselves in a similar situation, not at all Soviet yet very much like it? Historical facts do not permit a moral comparison of the Russian Church to the Church outside Russia, exalting the Church outside Russia as somehow having preserved its purity and uncompromising character. One must not forget the words of the Apostle, "There is none righteous, no, not one." (Rom. 3:10)

Document 1


Moscow, The Kremlin.


Dear Iosif Vissarionovich,

The brilliant new victories of the valiant Red Army, echoing joyfully in the hearts of the faithful Russian people in far off Manchuria, evoke feelings of rapture before the mighty deeds of our warrior soldiers under your wise leadership.

Filled with feelings of gratitude, the clergy and faithful of the city of Harbin experience the joy of victory and our liberation from the Japanese aggressors by the valiant troops of the Red Army, and beg you to accept from them on the occasion of the Day of Victory over Japan 20,000 rubles for the fund to aid the children and families of our native Russian Red Army.

MELETIUS, Metropolitan of Harbin and Manchuria

DIMITRY, Archbishop of Hailar

JUVENAL, Bishop of Qiqihar





Please convey my greetings and gratitude to the Orthodox Russian clergy and faithful of the city of Harbin for their concern for the children and families of the Red Army.



Let us acquaint ourselves with document 2.*


Of Moscow And All Russia

to his Grace the Archbishop of Peking and China VICTOR


The status of Church affairs in the Chinese Spiritual Mission according to reports received from his Grace the Archbishop of China VICTOR and his Grace the Metropolitan of Harbin NESTOR.

Journal number 15 assigned by the Holy Synod on June 12, 1946.


1. That in accordance with the request of his Grace Archbishop Victor that Bishop Juvenal (formerly of Qiqihar) be appointed at the discretion of Archbishop Victor as the replacement for the cathedra of the Archbishop of Shanghai John, who does not recognize the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate.

2. To propose to his Grace Metropolitan Nestor that at the discretion of Archbishop Victor and in accordance with his request a sufficient number of priests be transferred from the East Asian Exarchate to Shanghai to replace those priests who have not recognized the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, specifically – if they so agree – Archimandrites Philaret,** Joseph and Benjamin, Archpriests Rostislav Gan and Simeon Novosiltsev and Deacon Gorelkin, advocated by his Grace Archbishop Victor. To inform Metropolitan Nestor, Archbishop Victor and Bishop Juvenal of this decree.

ALEKSEY, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

Protopresbyter N. KOLCHITSKY, Chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchate

13 June, 1946


I feel it necessary to state that the publication of these documents is not intended to condemn the bishops and pastors mentioned, who found themselves in a difficult position in the Far East. One ought to sympathize with them, to commiserate with them in a Christian fashion and not to feel that they have renounced the faith or fallen into "apostasy".

The publication of these documents is intended to illustrate that we are all weak and no one has the right to consider himself purer than his brother, as in the present case those canonical Orthodox pastors who even in the Soviet Union have preserved their faith and to whom the Lord has given a more difficult acre in His field to plow than to us.

What happened to those "Karlovtsy" bishops outside Russia with their pastors and flocks is clear, once they found themselves in a situation similar to that of the citizens of the USSR. The very same thing took place in the Balkans and even in Western Europe with the bishops of that very same Church outside Russia.

The most conservative (as regarding both the Church and politics) bishop of the Church outside Russia, Archbishop Seraphim (Sobolev), has now joined the Moscow Patriarchate together with his flock in Bulgaria. So also have the pastors and flock of the Belgrade Cathedral Church of Metropolitan Anthony and Metropolitan Anastassy. And so also has that pillar of émigré religious, political and ideological conservatism, Metropolitan Seraphim (Lukyanov) of "Western Europe" together with his flock on the rue d’Odessa in Paris. Even he went to the USSR. That is what has happened to the outspoken activists of émigré religious and political monarchist anti-Bolshevism, which tied the Church not only to politics, but also to a monarchist form of administration and the house of the Romanoffs. His Grace Metropolitan Philaret should not raise his hand against the local Church of that country which has granted him asylum. He should not groundlessly assume political suspicions about its ecclesiastical actions. In his enthusiasm to criticize the construction of a local Church in America on the basis of the holy canons of the Church, the venerable bishop has completely ignored the fact of the complete hierarchical dissolution of his ecclesiastical collegiality during the years of the testing of the faith.

Has he any idea of what took place outside the Far East in the 30’s and 40’s? After the war there was begun in Munich a new ecclesiastical collegiality, which was not and of course could not be recognized by the Orthodox Church in America as its "center". The Synod outside Russia lost the only basis for its existence when it abandoned the territory of the Serbian Church, which had given the blessing for its foundation. Metropolitan Anastassy and Fr. G. Grabbe included in the Munich Synod some new bishops, postwar refugees from the Far East who were unknown to America. The decision of the 7th All-American Council in Cleveland in 1946 was founded on very solid ground. It was the only possible decision. It is not superfluous to add that included in this new Synod "outside Russia" in Munich were two bishops who had been consecrated in Moscow: the Rt. Rev. Archbishop Panteleimon (Rudyk) and Archbishop Benedict (Babkovsky), demonstrating that Metropolitan Anastassy obviously recognized the canonical ecclesiastical validity of the Moscow Patriarchate.

From the mid 30’s to the mid 40’s the Metropolitan of Berlin and Germany Seraphim (Lade) was extremely influential in the Church outside Russia. He was a German from Saxony, a member of the National Socialist Party, and was in constant contact with the Gestapo (as an "ober-procurator" he oversaw my German Deanery of the Western European Exarchate of the Ecumenical Patriarch). Canonically my deanery was under the jurisdiction of Metropolitan Eulogy of Paris, but practically, owing to the severing of ties with Paris at that time, under his vicar, Bishop Sergius of Prague. Metropolitan Seraphim helped us as much as he could in mitigating the destruction of our Deanery in Germany, when before the war by the power of Hitler’s German authorities, six out of nine parishes were seized along with their church property and the remaining three parishes were left to us without property. Yet, as the representative of the Karlovtsy Synod outside Russia, he took an active role in this purely political devastation. I have reason to believe that he did not take this action to the limits desired by the Synod. As soon as the Third Reich had fallen, Metropolitan Seraphim lost his importance to Metropolitan Anastassy and Archpriest G. Grabbe. (He spoke bitterly to me in Munich in 1948 of the remarkable change in relations to him.)

The dissolution of the leadership of "Church outside Russia" was profound. During the war the senior member of the Synod of Bishops outside Russia after Metropolitan Anastassy, Archbishop Hermogenes declared Croatian Autocephaly and himself to be the Patriarch of this Autocephalous Church! This act was a heavy blow for the Serbian Church, which had suffered during the war, since they were the protector and benefactor of the Synod of Bishops in Karlovtsy. The autocephaly of the Croatian Church by a bishop of the Church outside Russia was proclaimed on the bones of the Serbs, martyrs for Orthodoxy during those years (tormented and killed en masse by the Ustashi and fanatical Roman Catholics). Metropolitan Philaret’s "Appeal" makes no mention of the purely political and quite sinful diversion by the Karlovtsy Synod against the righteous Metropolitan Sergius of Japan. It wreaked tremendous harm upon the Japanese Church. I know this through documents and the testimony of individual Japanese. Even now Japan recalls with horror the attempt on the part of the Karlovtsy Synod with the help of the Japanese political military police to replace the legitimate Metropolitan Sergius of Tokyo, who was respected by the entire Japanese Church, with the Archpriest Ono, who had been hurriedly divorced and consecrated a bishop in Manchuria specifically for that purpose. (He later repented himself of his criminal act.)

The Orthodox Church in America does not wish to be at enmity with anyone, even the Synod outside Russia temporarily sojourning on American territory. Indeed they could establish brotherly relations, the one a temporary church convinced that it is "in exile," and the other – the local Church in America, destined to remain here permanently. An obvious sign of this possibility is the fact that in our relations with these bishops "in exile" there has not been any discriminatory declaration of suspension on our part.* The true Church of Christ in America has no desire to lead its life and carry the glad tidings of the Apostles to its country with the spear of human passions, anger, and especially pitiful political anxieties that mottle Metropolitan Philaret’s "Appeal". Christ’s Apostles did not even begin to think of such political anxieties! Political intimidation is a poor method of increasing faith and love among people.

The Orthodox Church in America respects the faith of the Russian people and its Orthodox bishops, both exiled from their dioceses and heading their dioceses in Russia, courageously doing their pastoral work among their own people. We are not ashamed or frightened to recognize them as shepherds doing their best to tend their flock.

Not being in complete agreement with the words and actions of the Moscow Patriarchate (the suspension of us, the bishops of the Metropolia in 1947 in particular), we never felt it expedient for ourselves outside Russia to be administratively dependent upon the Moscow Church Administration. Of course Moscow could no more administer our affairs than we could those of Russian bishops and priests. So much the more we should not torment them with our lightweight criticism. (Since we are so secure, such criticism is not very heroic.) It is not their fault that they live in the USSR and that those who persecute the faith have not yet tormented them to death. Bound by their government’s anti-religious ideology, these pastors serve the Lord and call upon His Holy Name among their people. That in itself is a great accomplishment (not to be compared with ours). The Orthodox Church in Russia, by the grace of God, lives both invisibly and visibly in its "lower" catacombs and is "upper" catacombs, those visible churches that remain open for the people. Yet we also respect all those courageous pastors and laymen who placing themselves in danger have openly criticized the status of their church and the inadequacies of the life of the Church in the USSR. To us they are all our brothers, the one Russian Church. We must not judge them from here, but rather help them. (And I take comfort in the fact that I can help them all by my preaching of God’s Truth.)

This is the only proper arrangement for us.

Not from some separated bishop, but from the entire Church in Russia, the Body of Christ, from its entire episcopate have we validly and with grace received our autocephaly, the sole conclusive form of canonical organization of the Orthodox Church in America.

The local Church on the American Continent has been established. And so it will remain forever. And, sooner or later, all the branches of the Church in America will attach themselves to the trunk of the local church. There is no other way.

Metropolitan Philaret’s "Appeal" makes an attempt to call upon the "non-recognition" of our autocephaly at the present time by Patriarch Athenagoras. Yet he certainly should be aware of the fact that it was not the Greeks who established Orthodoxy in America, nor should they be the first to establish autocephaly here. Now the way to unification, inclusion in the catholicity of autocephaly, is open to them. And young Greek priests and laymen in America have already begun an open discussion of the matter (cf. the magazine "Logos"). The Syrian Antiochian Church of America feels itself headed in the same direction.

It is not difficult to explain Patriarch Athenagoras’ opinion in this matter. He does not want to "lose" the Greek Americans, who are under his jurisdiction and have supported him in his difficult circumstances. But it is strange that Metropolitan Philaret calls upon his authority, since he not only does not recognize the authority of the Greek Primate, but also has taken over three of his parishes. How can he possibly call upon the authority of the Patriarch of Constantinople under such circumstances?

Patriarch Athenagoras was unable to recognize the canonical priority of autocephaly of the Russian Church in America. Up until the 1920’s the Patriarchate of Constantinople recognized the ecclesiastically historical foundation and unity in this regard of the American Metropolia. Now he naturally wishes to uphold the "canonicity" of his non-autocephalous (not even autonomous) Greek flock on American soil who are under his jurisdiction and support him in his difficult circumstances. Our Church respects the Greek Archdiocese in America and is in full liturgical communion with it.

The Greek Diocese in America was founded, as is known, only at the beginning of the 1920’s. Up until then all Orthodox, Greeks and Syrians and Serbs and all others were under the jurisdiction of the American Diocese of the Russian Church and Constantinople recognized the canonical unity of that jurisdiction on the New Continent. We are not infringing upon the right to exist in America of the church of our Greek brethren, nor are we making any demands of them. We respect them and remain with them, as with all Orthodox Churches, in liturgical communion.

The blessed beginning of Autocephaly has already begun to bear its good fruit. Orthodox Americans, priests and laymen, have ceased to regard the Orthodox Church of their country as a "foreign colony." They have ceased to think of themselves as strangers in their own Church. The American people are worthy of having their own Orthodox Church and receiving from its lips the fullness of the Truth of Christ. In twenty years we will celebrate the bicentennial of its existence in America.

His Grace Metropolitan Philaret must be aware of all this. He must also be aware that there was no offer of repentance made to the Moscow Patriarchate on the part of the bishops of the Metropolia in order to receive autocephaly. Not one of us ever doubted the validity of our Church’s sacraments. And the "withdrawal of suspension" (which the "Appeal" would like to use against the Metropolia) was a natural, purely internal affair of the Moscow Patriarchate. If in its archives there was an act of an "imposition of suspension" on us in 1947, then of course it was necessary to officially annul that act before the proclamation of Autocephaly. The Moscow Patriarchate was obliged to observe that formality. And the bishops of the Metropolia were diplomatic enough to be completely satisfied with the one positive act of the Moscow Patriarchate, the recognition of their blessed historical and canonical existence in America.

The very fact that the Russian Church held discussions about Autocephaly with the Metropolia is an acknowledgment of that recognition. There is no need here for truly irrelevant, purely casuistic assertions, probes and reasonings that we were somehow "forced to admit the validity of suspension which had been imposed upon us by Moscow," etc. No such thing ever happened. We never recognized any suspension. But we also did not demand an apology from Moscow for its past hindrance to our life. We overlooked this error with love. And Moscow likewise did not remind us of any infidelity in its regard. It was a brotherly, very ecclesiastically responsible dialogue.

To insist upon the preservation "unto ages of ages" in America of the Russian, Syrian, Serbian or Greek "emigration" (i.e., to perpetually preserve the Church of Christ in America as a form of foreign ghetto) is to completely misunderstand the apostolic nature of the Church and its role in the world.

But there is still a secular, "social" concern. As a result of ecclesiastical autocephaly could there be some sort of political infiltration into America from the USSR? Demagogy is especially zealous on this point. In fact autocephaly affords better protection for America in this regard. And in the light of many factors that are obvious to everyone, how can all aspects of this question be considered? This is already being demonstrated by life itself. For example I cite the declaration of our Church at the recent session of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This text was broadcast over the "Voice of America": "The All-American Orthodox Council deeply regrets the prevalent direction of ecumenical executive organizations that search for Christian unity through involvement in political matters. The council especially protests the moral and material support rendered by some of these organizations to destructive revolutionary groups while failing to mention the suppression of the Christian Faith and human rights in Communist countries."

We remain as independent as we were. But of course no canonical church status can become of itself, eo ipso, a barrier to all political machinations. Such machinations do not depend on canonical status, and Metropolitan Philaret and his flock are themselves not insured against them. Even the noisiest anti-Bolshevik political activism and verbosity does not insure against Bolshevik machinations. (Perhaps even to the contrary.)

But let us consider that if Metropolitan Philaret himself spent two decades under Communist authority as a cleric of the Moscow Patriarchate, and was even considered to be in good standing, without experiencing any sort of "infiltration", why does he feel that such is possible for other bishops and priests in the USSR, and even more so in free America? If he kept his faith under Soviet authority without causing any harm to his Orthodoxy, why is he now so fearful that we who live in a free America, completely independent from the USSR, will suddenly like little children fall prey to an undesirable "infiltration"? His logic is not convincing. We will keep our hearts and minds open only to the infiltration of the Holy Faith of the confessors of the Russian people and its Church.

Metropolitan Philaret (especially in the light of his many years of experience in the fold of the Moscow Patriarchate) cannot assert that none of the 76 bishops of the Russian Church, who placed their signature on American Autocephaly, is not canonically qualified to do so. The Church is not founded on the sanctity of its bishops. The Orthodox Church has stood unharmed through 2000 years of world upheaval by the grace of God through the faith of its people in the immutable promise of our Lord Jesus Christ to guard it from "the gates of Hell." The Church is founded on that promise of Christ, which has the same force in Russia as in America.

Political infiltration is always possible under any circumstances, and we must defend ourselves against it. It can come from any direction. The arduous life of the Russian emigration demonstrates this with sufficient clarity and gives us a warning. Demonic "infiltration" has been directed for 50 years towards the spiritual destruction of the Russian emigration through the provocation of hatred and demagoguery. And it has originated on all sides.

The general character of Metropolitan Philaret’s "Appeal" is its moral and ecclesiological negativity. Metropolitan Philaret does not derive his thoughts from the spirit of the Universal Orthodox Church of Christ nor from Her historical journey in America. His "Appeal" does not reveal the power of positive thinking to souls. He relies on criticism, suspicion, condemnation and worldly fears. This is the method still used by vocal political activists who groundlessly consider their noise alone to be anti-Bolshevism.

Pastors are preachers of divine power and truth and not propagandists of "leftist" or "rightist" views. Politicians have always desired and to this day would like to use the Church of Christ as a tool to achieve their goals. Our Lord was crucified for not helping to build a worldly kingdom. True pastors observe His Spirit. For His Spirit is His Kingdom and power and glory.


10 April, 1971

The First Anniversary of Autocephaly

of the Orthodox Church in America

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